After searching in vain in both Fountain Square and Mass Ave for an eatery open on Labor Day, the FLO stumbled upon a vision in southern deep fried glory on East Street. We had heard that a new soul food restaurant had opened up downtown. Usually our waistline concerns prevent us from considering such delicacies, but hey, we were in a pinch. And man are we happier for it!
Maxine's Chicken and Waffles may make northerners scratch their heads. Fried chicken atop waffles? We decided to leave that for another time. But we will be back to give it a go!
Upon entering, we were surprised to be seated; not just expected to walk up to a counter and grab a tray? We immediately noticed the large shower/fountain/wishing well in the center of the dining room. This made for a loud, but not unpleasant atmosphere. The rest of the interior was adorned in stucco with large arches and sconces on the walls. While tasteful, it seemed somehow out of place with the deep fried goodness being served.
After being seated, we both opted for one of the house specialties: B&K Ice tea. It's a mixture of sweetened iced tea & lemonade. Very refreshing! While looking over the menu, we immediately decided on a FLO-favorite as an appetizer: fried green tomatoes! YUM! Somehow we knew they'd be done right: thinly sliced. no flour. Just the perfect cornmeal breading. They were served with a creamy dipping sauce heavy on the onion. Ozzy, spying the green within the crust, dove into the complimentary corn bread instead. One very buttery face later, he was a happy boy.
For the main course, Libby opted for the smothered boneless friend chicken, mashed potatoes and collard greens. She bestowed her mac-n-cheese on Ozzy who gave it two big thumbs up. Fred was torn between several of the hearty breakfast-all-day offerings, but ended up going with a blackened catfish sandwich with fried apples on the side.
Yowsa! Libby's boneless fried chicken was cooked to perfection. How do you get boneless chicken with the skin intact? The gravy was unlike any we'd tasted before. There was no milk, just the drippings from the chicken, some stock, flour and spices. Heavenly.
Fred's blackened catfish sandwich was well seasoned and perfectly cooked, but unfortunately too small a fillet for the oversized bun and toppings. Good stuff though and the fried apples were pie without the crust. Tender, sweet and warm. Delish.
Libby had never tried collard greens before. She was pleasantly surprised to find them something familiar. Very cabbage-like without the tang of vinegar. Instead, these had a porky goodness that complimented the smothered chicken.
After seeing a plate of the chicken and waffles walk past, Libby was ready for another visit. Somehow we don't think Ozzy would complain.
Price-$$, Certainly reasonable especially for the large portions (Fred's sandwich not withstanding)
Atmosphere-** - ***, Open kitchen and lively dining area as one might expect. But the contemporary decor was somehow too stuffy for the comfort food within.
Service-***, Greeted at the door by an eager and accommodating host. Our server seemed almost offended that we were not able to finish our plates...sorry...wanted to...believe us.
Fred - B, Fried chicken. fried catfish. fried green tomatoes. fried apples. fried arteries. oh yeah.
Libby - B+, Although I don't have the most experienced southern food palate, the fried chicken was perfect. As for the mashed potatoes and gravy, more seasoning please!
Ozzy - B+, When asked if his mac-n-cheese was good, he simply replied "yup". But 3 piece of cornbread spoke volumes...